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What Are You Afraid Of? (2) God Might Want You to be Terrified Sometimes

February 24, 2009

Continued from the previous post.

I believe that the strength of our faith in God can be directly measured by how often we are terrified. If you haven’t had that nauseous, sinking feeling in your stomach lately, then maybe you have not been exercising your faith enough. And you are probably not growing.

Fear is inevitably the thing that holds most of us back from reaching our potential, or from even trying. That’s not really breaking news, or anything. There are volumes of self-help books devoted to this subject. But I believe it is a healthy exercise to visit this from time to time, to assess the trade-off between our fears and getting anything accomplished in our lives. I have discovered that fear, goes hand in hand with faith and fulfillment.

I was not raised to face my fears or to even name them, for that matter. Instead, I grew up thinking that fear and discomfort were things that I should run away from. Predictably, I often ended up disappointed. My approach during my early adult years went like this: if I wanted something badly enough, I thought I should PRAY REALLY HARD and wait for it to happen. I honestly believed that if something was meant to be, then I really didn’t have to do anything, but just wait for God to “show up.” Instead of taking action, I would pray, fast, pray harder, wait on the Lord, read the bible looking for divine messages, and hope. Usually nothing happened, and I would chalk it up to “not God’s will” and try to move on to something else. I was very good at over-spiritualizing my disappointments, and of course it allowed me to avoid ever having to take responsibility for anything.

Let me tell you, it is a tortuous state of being to have huge dreams and no tolerance for fear. So instead of pursuing a career in songwriting, I made the trade off to safety and comfort by doing things that were more familiar, but not necessarily aligned with my idea of God’s dream for my life at the time. Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, to be brutally honest about it, I just didn’t have the balls. That’s right, you heard me. And after giving this a great deal of thought over my life, I believe that’s exactly what God is going to tell me when I stand before him at His eternal throne on Judgment Day. Once His infinite engulfing stream of love has covered me over, so that I know I’ll be okay no matter what, He’ll look at me and say (in so many words), “Brad, you have no idea what you missed out on, because you were so afraid of so many things. Remember that music thing?” I’ll cringe and go, “No. I mean, well, Yes.” Then I’ll try to change the subject. “Hey, that’s a lovely beam of light shining over there! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that color before! Is that an angel or…” He’ll cut me right off and stare me down, forcing me to admit the harsh truth about my behavior. But in a loving way, of course. I will have no choice, but to face the music. “Do we have to bring that up right now?” I’ll ask. And He’ll say. “Yes, I want to talk about it. Listen, Brad, it was you, not Me. You didn’t give me much to work with, you know? You did have a choice, my son. And you chose to indulge your fears.”

I believe we’ll all get a little spanking on that day. And maybe not for the things we think we should. We are all so horrified about being called out for our embarrassing sins, but what about all those times we just crapped out because we didn’t have the guts to do something that would have made a big difference in our lives, or someone else’s? I can imagine God’s comments to the line-up of some of the friends and acquaintances I’ve known over the years – His commentary on how we all fell short of our true potential in life:

“My child, you could have accomplished tremendous things with your career!  And the influence and impact you could have had for my kingdom! But you were so timid. You held back. Why?”

“Son, you could have paid a little more attention to your wife, and at least TRIED to learn how to put her before yourself, but you were so self-centered and terrified of intimacy! So much love was left out. You apparently didn’t have the cajones for a real loving relationship.”

“You? You could have stooped down a bit to see other people’s points of view once in while. I was hoping that you would become a little more humble, and learn to listen, but you were so insecure with your fragile little ego that you had to be right all the time. Why were you so afraid of being vulnerable?”

Etc. etc. etc.

And why shouldn’t we be scolded for holding back, being scared, not having enough faith in God, or in ourselves? I have no doubt that God wants us to face our fears head-on, to courageously deal with them, whether it’s speaking in front of a crowd, or taking on more responsibility at work, or going off on that mission trip, or standing up to a peer. This is how you can grow, how you start to see God working in your life. If we are too caught up with the idea of being comfortable, then we’ll never know what we are capable of. We will never know what God might have in store for us.

Not long after I killed my songwriting career, by God’s mercy, He took me through some other circuitous routes where I learned the lessons of how to overcome my fear and false pride and self-sabotaging behaviors. Getting married to a bold and intelligent woman was a big step in the right direction. In the process, I developed some new dreams – dreams for a successful career in business, and a full and loving family life. I started attacking my fears head on by taking on various assignments and jobs, increasing my responsibilities even when I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But you know what? I did do it. Sure, there were bumps in the road every now and then, but with faith in God and support from my wife, I got up and kept going. The more I went out on a limb and tried new things, the more successes I had and the more confident I became about my capabilities. God honored and blessed my hard work. After a while I just got used to the idea of being nervous, anxious, and even terrified sometimes. It’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s part of taking risks. It’s part of growing in my faith. It’s part of living.

 So go ahead and embrace those crazy dreams that God put in your head. Attack them, head on. He wants to show your potential – you are capable of way more than you think you are.

 Go on, what are you afraid of?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2009 11:56 pm

    well, i think that you should try rap, random acts of poetry, at hcb.

    i think you have some good ones in you.

  2. February 25, 2009 11:30 am

    :-)) a poem using colour, or write anything you want…

    you are such a good writer!

    i love your stories.

  3. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    February 25, 2009 7:14 pm

    Nancy – Am I picking up a British accent?
    Thanks for the compliment – it always means so much to hear that.
    A poem? Yeah, I have some really ridiculous stuff I did once with my daughter. Very avante-garde. No one at HCB will like it except you. Therefore, I may throw something out there some day soon, just to throw off LL.

  4. donkimrey permalink
    February 25, 2009 8:02 pm

    Your posts are very thought-provoking. You write extremely well and I’ve told some friends about you. Unfortunately, clicking on your icon on my site no longer routes them directly to you. I’m not a computer “geek” and don’t know how to fix that. Also, if you check Nancy’s site, you’ll discover that she writes some nice really nice poetry. Incidentally, it is not to late to write poetry . . .especially good poetry! If you have something to say, say it ~donkimrey

  5. February 26, 2009 12:27 am

    Wow! Once again I’m speechless. Thanks for the bold words. I still struggle with overcoming fears, so this was very encouraging.

    Also, thanks for visiting recently. And yes, my daughter is pretty neat; a little intense at times, but that’s okay with me. We have some awesome talks when she’s in the mood 🙂

  6. February 26, 2009 2:33 am

    A very good and very timely exhortation. Thank you.

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